There comes a time in every faghag's life where she reaches a crossroads. The scenario goes something like this.
It's a warm, balmy summer evening; you're sat in the smoking area of a perfectly adequate but nevertheless straight bar surrounded by your posse, who are artistically draped over plywood benches, knocking back vodka-soda-limes like they're going out of fashion. It's 11.30pm and in 15 minutes, your Uber awaits - a modern carriage that will transport you to the well-trodden cobbles of Old Compton Street where you'll chase the rainbows until dawn. And that's when it happens. Right at the exact moment when David is FaceTiming his American beau, Jamal has gone to buy a final round and Li has nipped to the loo. A stranger looms in the doorway and spots you through the organic smokescreen. He starts to make his way to you - with a certain quietly confident prowl - carefully navigating his way through many an open-toed Jesus sandal and immaculate Stan Smith (yes, it's one of those bars).
Surprisingly, this moment didn't happen a few hours earlier when you were throwing yourself around the empty dance floor to the Abba megamix with half the group only making it to the centre in time for the Gimme Gimme Gimme interlude (which they decided to belt out in the third above). Indeed, it was this 'early doors' style music - an irresponsible choice on the bartender's part (the DJ hadn't even arrived) - that drew us here in the first place. That, and the fact that the other guests were few and far between (read: there was plenty of space to dance).
But it didn't happen then. When you'd be forgiven for seeking out a quick thrill amidst the barren barstools and the pungent smell of bleach. It was happening now. Perhaps it was exactly this unanticipated episode of solitude that attracted this soul in the first place.
"How's it going?" Came a deep voice. A classic opening line favoured by the heterosexual male city dweller.
"I'm good. You?" Came an uncharacteristically casual reply.
"I saw you throwing some shapes earlier. Reckon you could show me a thing or too?"
Oh, bloody hell. The cool, calm, collected game was up in under 5 seconds of meeting - a new record.
"Oh yeah, that was me." Of course, it was you. Who else would have thought a zealous jazz combo to a non-descript disco-house track pre-9pm was appropriate outside of a wedding. He'd probably also witnessed my lift sequence with Li.
"What you drinking?" (I don't know when I became Marlon Brando's sidekick.)
"Whiskey. This is nearly done though. Would you like another?"
"Sure, but I'm drinking gin."
I followed him back inside, through the throng of people to the bar. He orders. I let him pay to address the gender pay gap.
Between the shoulders of other punters, I saw Li pass us by but he continued outside, unaware that a straight man was hitting on me. The stranger and I then resumed small talk which covered topics as far ranging as why bars don't have beer mats anymore, to the inefficiency of the Overground. Then, I spot David and Jamal, eagerly eyeing me from between the beer pumps. Jamal, serving side eye whilst outrageously flirting with a bartender sporting a Swedish football shirt, and David suggestively sucking on a paper straw while looking directly at us. Once they'd clocked that I had in fact evaded their subtlety and spied them, they began a pincer-like movement along the bar top whenever they saw a gap, until they were practically spooning the poor heterosexual in question. A natural segue then ensued.
"Oh hi… I should introduce you to my friends."
A chorus of greetings began; followed by mutual exchanges of "what a cool bar this was" - despite the fact that nobody had been previously and not one of us had an outward desire to return… Cue Li jeteing in; exclaiming that he'd ordered an Uber and we needed to get a move on. Fast.
So here we are at the pivotal moment. This article's namesake if you will. THE CROSSROADS. Here you are enjoying the delightful company of an attractive heterosexual male in a bar that happens to be a stone throw away from your neighbourhood, while having previously promised your fabulous companions that you would be joining them for a midnight romp down the yellow brick road. You know the question on everyone's lips. You refrain from articulating any of your thoughts for a brief moment longer, safe in the knowledge that you're still on neutral territory.
"We better head."
"Are you staying?"
Four gazes turn to you. Mae West pops to mind. It's better to be looked over than overlooked. You zone back in. Note the expression on everyone’s face: encouragement, egocentricity, empathy… bewilderment. Your brain plays out different scenarios of how this night could end... Biological necessity wins.
"Yeah, I think I'm going to stay." Done. Simple. "Really? We could all head there together if you want to be with your friends -" "No!" Shrieks the four part harmony.
"No, honestly, it would be good to chill."
"Text me!" mouths Jamal before flinging on his masc leather jacket.
The three good fairies fly onwards whilst sleeping beauty remains very much awake.
"Shall we?" asks the Prince, "or would you like another drink?"
That's it now, beauty. You're on your own. So you depart and stride off into the night with your potential lover. You arrive at an underwhelming castle and take your shoes off in a living room fitted with just enough consumer goods so not to give away any clues about the owner. Ah, minimalism.
He strides towards the sofa with an opened bottle of spirit and two tumblers. Silence. Another crossroads but this time with a more obvious outcome. The event unfolds as you seek to satisfy your desires, naturally fulfilling your end of the obligation. It all ends in a bang and with him rolling on to his side, kissing your cheek and whispering, "Thanks. I owe you" in your ear as casually as if you’d just lent him a fiver.
In three minutes, he’s silent again as you lay on your back staring up at the ceiling. Another three minutes pass and you finalise your decision. In an act of force majeure, you prise yourself from under the covers and attempt to effortlessly jump back into your jeans like you’re in a warped Special K advert. You stroll around and gaze fondly at your former lover. You bend down and kiss him lightly on the mouth, quickly look around to check for any incriminating evidence and exit the abode.
Before you know it you’re in the back of a car on your way to Soho caught between what could have been and what definitely wasn’t. You wind down the window and let the dulcet tones of Mellow Magic wash over you, pretending all the while that you're in a nineties movie playing the part of Julia Roberts. On approach, you feel the fuzzy pink haze reach out and wrap its warm glow around you, offering comfort, understanding and love. Your phone vibrates to confirm the location. You confidently stride into the club accompanied by Ariana, safe in the knowledge that you can have your cake and eat it too.